The 2022-23 NBA season is less than a month away, which means training camp and pre-season matches are almost underway. This will be a crucial time for the Oklahoma City Thunder, a very young team that needs to build as much chemistry as possible.
While Oklahoma City is not expected to be a playoff team this season, Thunder GM Sam Presti enters the season ready to improve the team regardless of the record.
“I don’t think anyone would say that we are not in progress, but I do think we are a better team than we were at this time last season,” Presti said in a statement on Wednesday.
He will go on to say that the team is not only better now than it was at the end of last season, but he also expects the team to be even better at the end of next season than it is now.
It is never a good idea for a team to enter the season with a closed mind. The Thunder enters the 2022-23 campaign ready for competition, and will make moves and adjust tournaments as the season goes on depending on how the season unfolds.
“Nobody knows how this season will go. Save your predictions, burn your assumptions. There are no facts about the future,” Presti said.
With the Thunder being a young and inexperienced team, the potential outcomes of this season are very broad.
Not only is the Thunder roster inexperienced, but OKC is entering the season with the toughest schedule in the NBA. However, the front office and coaching staff consider this a positive, giving the team more opportunity to play against the best competition as they develop.
“A lot has been done about our schedule which is the toughest in the league, but this will make us better,” Presti said.
While next season is important to Oklahoma City, the future is the main focus. The 2022-23 campaign will be a building block in the ongoing franchise rebuilding.
“It’s going to happen as a result of a series of seasons coming together,” Thunder GM said. “We are looking for an overall improvement over a long period of time…Climb the second mountain, and back to playoffs is not going to be going. It happens because of one season.”
It’s been well documented by Presti that there will be patience with the rebuild, as he wants the team to be a consistent team at the end of the game, not just a flash in the pan. It’s about doing what you can to avoid setbacks and admit that it takes luck along the way.
Whether it’s due to luck, misfortune related to injuries, the sweepstakes project, or other factors, these things make it nearly impossible to predict when the rebuilding will end. If all goes well, Thunder may arrive early next season. On the other hand, it may take several more years. Either way, the team is prepared not to make impulsive decisions that may be premature.
One unfortunate situation that has occurred recently is the Lisfranc injury suffered by number 2 player overall Chet Holmgren, who will miss the entire 2022-23 season. With that in mind, Presti doesn’t think that will hinder his long-term development. He views this major injury as something not holding him back developmentally, but tactically.
Presti said in the press this week: “In terms of Chet, the thing we lose most is being able to see him tactically and how he reacts to the rest of the players. We’re not going to get that offer. I can’t sugarcoat that.”
This team has a long runway, and at some point down the road, things will click. The core is already beginning to form, and within a few years each of these little bits will emerge as experienced players come their own.
“tea [Gilgeous-Alexander] He is just entering his freshman years. josh [Giddey]sheet [Holmgren] And some other players are still a few years away from that point. But at some point these periods will overlap.”
When that time comes, Oklahoma City will look ready to take the stage as a legitimate competitor. This would also be the time when the Thunder could take advantage of some of their draft assets to boost the roster via trade.
The season may not be full of upcoming wins for Thunder, but the rebuild seems to be heading in the right direction.